Memorial, a human rights project, has declared Ivan Safronov, previously with Kommersant and Vedomosti, a political prisoner, the organisation’s website says.
The human defenders believe that Safronov’s case is a remarkable example of “treason accusations frame-up”.
“We believe that the persecution of Safronov violates freedom of expression and freedom of information and is aimed at intimidating Russia’s civil society,” reads the statement. “We demand that Ivan Safronov be released from custody and fully exonerated”.
On 5 September, a court in Moscow sentenced Ivan Safronov to 22 years in maximum-security prison over high treason charges, while also issuing him a 500,000 rubles (€8,300) fine and a 2-year custodial restraint.
The trial was closed to the press and the general public. The court only announced the punishment for Safronov, and left their statement of reasons undisclosed.
Proekt, an independent Russian media outlet, analysed the indictment papers in the case. Having examined the documents, the journalists discovered that the prosecution never found the instrument of the crime, found no witnesses, and did not establish a motive, while all the allegedly “secret” information was publicly available.
“The court offered me to plead guilty and be sentenced for 12 years instead, but I refused. They framed me up. So what? 22 years in a maximum security prison is a generous sentence. They normally go easier on terrorists, murderers and sex offenders. Well, it feels good to know that my conscience was valued this highly. Deep down in my soul I realise that I won’t actually spend all 22 years in prison, but I’ll have to stay there for a while. I’m ready,” Safronov commented on the verdict.